Friday, March 19, 2004 | 9:49 a.m.
Two teens were sentenced Thursday to several years in prison for a beating last summer that left a young man with severe brain damage.
Authorities say Sal Castillo, 17, and Nicholas Russo, 19, beat 26-year-old Raymond Torino Jr. so badly that he suffered lasting mental and physical injuries.
"My son's not going to recover," Torino's father, Raymond Torino Sr., said, pointing to his wheelchair-bound son in the back of the courtroom. "He's got a life sentence."
Chief Deputy District Attorney Bill Kephart said Torino was a vibrant young man before the attack. Kephart referred to the Torino today as a "vegetable."
"I've never seen this extent of an injury," the veteran prosecutor said. "It just cries out for punishment."
District Judge John McGroarty sentenced Russo to three to 7 1/2 years in prison on a single charge of battery with a deadly weapon causing substantial bodily harm.
He sentenced Castillo, the apparent ringleader of the attack, to four to 12 years in prison on the same charge. The teens also were ordered to pay $500,000 in restitution to reimburse the Torino family for the medical bills and other costs they have incurred.
The pair had pleaded guilty as the result of a plea deal. Prosecutors dropped charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit battery with substantial bodily harm.
Castillo's case was automatically transferred to the adult system because he initially faced a charge of attempted murder.
Prosecutors say the attack occurred at a Las Vegas apartment complex after Torino bumped into Castillo in the parking lot. Kephart said it was unclear whether the confrontation resulted from an earlier argument.
The two men exchanged words, Kephart said, and Castillo became angry when Torino called him a foul name. Castillo enlisted Russo to help him beat Torino up, Kephart said.
"Mr. Russo cold-cocked Mr. Torino and knocked him down," Kephart said.
"Mr. Castillo basically stomped him (Torino) into the ground," at least seven times, Kephart said.
During the hearing, both defendants apologized for their actions.
"It was an act of anger and immaturity," Castillo said. "I apologize for all the pain and grief I've brought on all of us."
"Everything that happened should have never happened," Russo said. "He (Torino) will never recover, and I'm so sorry for that."
Castillo's attorney, Craig Jorgensen, had fought unsuccessfully for probation for his client, calling the incident "a spur of the moment fight in a parking lot."
"This was a terrible but youthful act," he said.